CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A record-breaking hot summer is drawing to a close and the school year has begun with students sweltering in Casper high schools.
The air conditioning at Kelly Walsh High School is not functioning at full capacity, and it's a hot first few weeks of school even when it is, according to the school's principal, Brad Diller. Much of the school does not even have air conditioning installed. For the past several years, school has started in the last weeks of August, and it's always warm, he added.
The air conditioning isn't a simple fix, but a project of several weeks. The principal has heard of a possibility that an air conditioning unit could be moved to KW from elsewhere in the district next year.
In the meantime, students say it's hard to concentrate and stay awake in class.
Alex Epp picked up a thermometer from a desk near the choir room where he was studying Thursday that read 31.5 degrees centigrade, or 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It had been hotter the day before, and up in the 90s some days, students said.
"The general consensus is, we can't wait until winter," Epp said, reaching for one of three frozen plastic water bottles on the desk. Some students are keeping water in a small refrigerator near the choir room.
Four fans in the choir room and an open door gave some relief, but it's still hot when 63 students sing in a cappella choir class. The science wing was almost as hot, students said. Several mentioned sweat rolling off faces and arms.
"I don't think there's been a year at Kelly Walsh, when I've been here anyway, when it's been this hot when I get to school," said KW junior Rebecca Triplett. The air-conditioned front office is the coolest place in the building, she said.
A student new to KW from Oklahoma, Courtney Apoll0ni is used to hot weather. But none of her classrooms there were as hot as the choir room. Her science class is only a little cooler, but she counts herself lucky all her classes have fans.
"The heat makes me sleepy," she said.
"You just can't get in a comfortable position in the seats," said KW student Maridi Choma. "You stick to them."
It's reached into the low 90s in the science wing and foreign language classrooms, students said. Anna Bohren said heat drove her chemistry class to library to take a test. They'd tried the cafeteria but it was too hot there. On Thursday, the library was 82 degrees with the air conditioning running. The front office area — where the sound of air conditioning whirred — felt the coolest.
Students sweat across town at Natrona County High School too. On the third floor, which houses most of the science and math classrooms, students receive a demonstration of how heat rises.
The 1924 building was not designed to house an air conditioning system, said administrative manager Pete Owen.
Air conditioning is part of the planned renovations to both high schools, according to Natrona County School District trustee Donn McCall. "The state adequacy standards for school buildings provide for air conditioning as part of the HVAC package," he said in a text message. All the district's schools built or renovated in recent years have air conditioning, he added.
The hottest room measured at NC reached 96 degrees. Teachers take their classes to the library, cafeteria and front lawn when the heat becomes unbearable.
NC senior Stephen Belden said his biology classroom reached 92 degrees on Wednesday. "It's always hot, but this is the most extreme year," he said.
Where the air conditioner is working, such as the library and office, it's working well, Belden added.
NC student Michael Frantz said it gets hot, but he finds it easier to concentrate.
"I just take all of the outside distractions and focus on one thing," he said. Others disagreed.
"You're more focused on your body temperature and trying to cool down," Kennedy Ourth said. The NC student freezes water bottles at night and brings them to school.
"You're mostly fanning yourself with your work," NC student Sidney Wiand said. Teachers bring in fans, but that can make it hard to hear, she added.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com